A good play or musical is emblematic of what we love about entertainment—a chance to escape, to be fully immersed in another world, to engage with our most human emotions in a moment brought brilliantly to life by the talents of impeccable performers. And though it may be some time before the lights go back up on Broadway, it’s still possible to get your fix of the Great White Way in the comfort of your own home. Here are just a few of our favorite theater audiobooks to tide you over until curtain call.
It’s impossible to discuss contemporary theater without mentioning the absolute juggernaut that is
Hamilton. The musical, which opened in February 2015 to historic sold-out shows (and has since received a recorded film edition on Disney+), follows the life of Alexander Hamilton from orphanhood to the Treasury to his fateful duel with Aaron Burr. In Hamilton: The Revolution, playwright and lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda joins culture critic Jeremy McCarter to take fans on a backstage tour of the Tony-winning hit. Narrated by *Law and Order'*s Mariska Hargitay, the Hamilton audiobook traces the show’s development and its historical source material, bringing to life the groundbreaking musical that changed the sound of Broadway forever. Without You
Few theater works have had an impact as massive as
Rent, Jonathan Larson’s heartbreaking rock musical following seven young New Yorkers navigating life and love amidst the anguish and loss of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. At the core of the play is Mark Cohen, a documentarian who takes refuge behind his camera as he braces for the disease to claim some of the people he loves most, portrayed in the original Broadway production and the film adaptation with heart and humor by Anthony Rapp. In his memoir Without You, Rapp offers Rentheads a genuine glimpse into both the play’s tragic start (playwright Jonathan Larson died suddenly on the day of the show’s first preview) and his own personal struggles, including his mother’s battle with cancer. Until the Flood
Pulitzer Prize nominee Dael Orlandersmith wrote and performed this one-woman drama about the 2014 murder of Black teenager Michael Brown at the hands of a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. Throughout this gorgeous, moving work, Orlandersmith lends her voice to unearthing and dismantling the unspeakable truths of racism—that so long as it exists as an institution, Black men and women are in imminent danger.
Until the Flood was born from extensive interviews with Missouri residents following Brown’s death and is fleshed out further by the darkness that lingers in American history. When coupled with Orlandersmith’s tender, compassionate performance, the result is a work of theater that captures the agony wrought time and again by systemic racism. Razzle Dazzle
Anyone even passingly familiar with New York City history will tell you that in the ’70s, Times Square was generally a place to avoid. Once a neon-tinged series of seedy back alleyways and sex shops that served as a hotbed for crime, it’s hard to imagine how the glitzy, glamorous tourist trap of today came to be. Enter Michael Riedel’s
Razzle Dazzle, a work of narrative nonfiction that tracks the area’s development from bankrupt decline to full-blown entertainment empire. Narrator Peter Berkrot skillfully performs this saga of corporate coups, backstage gossip, and, ultimately, the rise of the Great White Way that brought with it hits like Les Misérables and The Phantom of the Opera. The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey
An Off-Broadway tour de force now brought to audio,
The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey is at once a captivating police procedural and a gorgeous character portrait of the title character: a bright-eyed 14-year-old boy who has gone missing, leaving a massive feeling of emptiness in his wake. Writer and star James Lecesne—who is also the founder of the necessary and inspiring LGBTQIA+ mental health organization, The Trevor Project—creates a work of art that is at once tense and joyous, forcing Leonard’s neighbors (and by extension, audience members) to confront their own biases and embrace a spirit of radical empathy and understanding. Fair warning: this is a listen that will stay with you long after the final word. Dear Evan Hansen: Through the Window
The unmissable sensation
Dear Evan Hansen is the winner of six Tony Awards and endless praise from anyone who’s been lucky enough to score tickets. In this listen, go behind the scenes of this unforgettably heartfelt musical and learn just what it takes to bring a Broadway smash hit from conception to actualization to box office gold. This audio is co-authored by Steve Levenson, who wrote the book for Dear Evan Hansen, and the team of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, who together composed the musical’s score—so you can trust that you’re getting the inside scoop from very reliable sources. Fleshed out with interviews from the cast and crew and narrated by Taylor Trensch (who played the title role on Broadway in 2018), this listen is a must for any theater aficionado. Broadway Nights
With show-stopping narration from the likes of Kristen Chenoweth, Andrea Martin, Jonathan Groff, and Richard Kind, Seth Rudetsky’s raucously fun
Broadway Nights is the perfect choice for a theater fan looking for a laugh. Featuring Stephen Sheerin, a neurotic young musician and conductor who’s finally gotten his big break on Broadway, and an eccentric ensemble including a comatose casting director and an inebriated diva, this hilarious audiobook offers a tongue-in-cheek glimpse into the backstage world that’s utterly engrossing and thoroughly charming. Feeding the Dragon
If you dearly miss being able to experience a play live and in person, this Audible Original theater selection is just the balm you need. Writer and actor Sharon Washington’s one-woman play
Feeding the Dragon was first presented Off-Broadway just a couple of years ago, but the story she tells—and the skill with which she brings it to life in her performance—is timeless. Washington’s autobiographical work of her young life spent in a library captures the magic of childhood and the pain of reckoning with discrimination in equal measure, expertly crafting a work that brings her vivid, wondrous world into view. A combination of whimsy and stark moments of realism, this listen is a performance that’s absolutely impossible to forget. The Secret Life of the American Musical
Have you ever wondered how your favorite Broadway show came to be? In
The Secret Life of the American Musical, legendary producer Jack Viertel, the SVP of Jujamcyn Theatres, sheds light on how musicals are built, from score to choreography, and why the art form is so beloved today. In meticulous detail, Viertel delves into the history and technique of some of the most adored shows of all time, like Guys and Dolls, Oklahoma!, and Hairspray. Drama Desk-nominated actor David Pittu brings a grounded, engaging performance to his narration, crafting a hard-to-pause listen that offers lasting insights. Patti LuPone
A bonafide living legend, Patti LuPone has graced the stage countless times in her career—and she has Grammys, Tonys, Oliviers, and a spot in the American Theater Hall of Fame to prove it. Lupone has starred in plenty of celebrated productions—
Evita, Sweeney Todd, and Gypsy, for starters—and in her eponymous memoir, she shares her experiences, struggles, and triumphs as an actor. As an additional treat for fans, LuPone narrates her autobiographical account herself with a candid, vulnerable style that’s more akin to a friendly conversation over coffee than a celebrity detailing her path to success. Latin History for Morons
After enjoying its Broadway run, John Leguizamo’s comedic (and incredibly educational!) solo performance has been brought to audio. And luckily for us, not a single moment of the animated exuberance that let it shine on stage was lost in that transition. Leguizamo takes listeners along for the ride as he attempts to teach his son everything he knows about the greatest figures in Latin American history…but along the way, he finds that history still has a few surprises for even the most well-versed of scholars. As he tries to stir up his son’s pride in his Latino heritage, Leguizamo also shines a light on a culture and deep, complicated history that’s often overlooked or overshadowed by whitewashed accounts—from Montezuma to today. It’s 3,000 years of history packed into just 80 minutes, and every one of those moments is the perfect mix of irreverent and incisive.
Too Much Is Not Enough
Part coming-of-age story and part exploration of his craft, Andrew Rannells’s
Too Much Is Not Enough recounts his journey to the stage from humble beginnings in the American Midwest. Rannells is a multi-time Tony nominee for shows as varied as Hedwig and the Angry Inch, The Book of Mormon, and Jersey Boys. But before he found his way to fame, he had to find himself, growing from a self-conscious Omaha native to an actor known for giving his all in every performance. Balancing love, loss, and a slew of wild New York City nights, Rannells carved a path for himself—a process that he recounts with spirit, honesty, and warmth in this author-narrated memoir. Girls & Boys
Girls & Boys, playwright Dennis Kelly offers a captivating—and devastating—rumination on a number of things: family, ambition, abuse, gender, violence, grief, survival. The play follows an unnamed woman as she relates the major events of her life, from meeting her husband to raising her children to navigating the everyday struggle of balancing career aspirations with familial obligations. Recollections that start out largely uneventful slowly, ominously build into an absolutely shattering reveal that will break your heart and leave a lasting impression. BAFTA-winner Carey Mulligan expertly moves between the play’s comedic opening and the slow-burn tragedy that engulfs the narrative, lending her inimitable talents to a work of storytelling that will challenge and stir you. After Anatevka
Fiddler on the Roof is one of the most adored musicals in history and with good reason: the heartfelt tale of a Jewish family living in Imperial Russia is celebrated not only for an incredible story, but for a gorgeous score that echoes a significant cultural moment. A richly developed narrative featuring beautifully crafted characters—from dairyman Tevye to each of his five daughters to matchmaker Yente—Fiddler holds a special place in our hearts. In After Anatevka, Broadway star Alexandra Silber writes and narrates a tale that picks up where the play leaves off. As she follows Hodel and her fiancé Perchik as they fight back against oppression and attempt to find each other again, Silber creates a work that will resonate for fans of Fiddler’s approach to history, love, family, and tradition. Sea Wall / A Life
If you missed out on this consistently sold-out Broadway drama during its run, fret not: now in audio, Simon Stephens and Nick Payne’s examination of love and loss is as compelling as ever. A pair of monologues that combine to construct a mesmerizing and gutting experience,
Sea Wall / A Life follows Jake Gyllenhaal’s Abe and Tom Sturridge’s Alex as they cope with birth, death, and all the trials and aches in between. The two actors, who embody their roles with authentic emotion and exquisite delivery, expertly explore the most painful truths of human life—chief among them, that loss is entirely inevitable.